Sydney’s coastal oasis
  |  First Published: December 2012

Sydney’s Northern Beaches add a coastal calming element to the controlled chaos that dominates much of the metropolitan area, and for out-of-towners the BIG4 Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park offers a perfect focal point from which to explore the area or just relax.

The spacious 4.5-star park sits on the banks of the channel of Narrabeen Lake just a few hundred metres from its entrance to the sea.

The relaxed atmosphere and central location on the Barrenjoey Peninsula made the park a logical headquarters when the ABT BREAM events were held from Pittwater and when the NSWFM team needed a base for a few days’ work on the Northern Beaches, the accommodation choice was a no-brainer.

Booking through BIG4 was a breeze and so was check-in, thanks to the friendly reception staff who had our Lake View Villas spotlessly clean and ready for our arrival. Just by swiping the boom gate card and driving into the quiet park, the stresses of the city traffic and the working day just seemed to fall away.

For around the price of pretty cramped hotel rooms in a drab inner suburb somewhere, we had two-bedroom (one queen bed) villas with full-sized kitchens and bathrooms, comfy living and dining areas, airy verandahs and space galore, inside and outside.

Draw back the drapes and what do you see? An expanse of lawn, trees, the lagoon and – rabbits! Families of them graze around the site, content in the knowledge that they would always be safe from my bunny-chasing whippet bitch – sorry, no pets allowed…

Bedding and linen were comparable with similar hotels and there were the usual coffee/tea and toiletry packs. Easy and comfortable all round, down to the washing machine, dryer and ironing board.

A quick trip to the nearby shops for drinks and snacks and we had our own mini-bar going for a fraction of the hotel price.

The nearby Warriewood shopping centre could have stocked the larder if we’d chosen to cook our dinners, but there were enough restaurants nearby to keep us happy.

The villa kitchens, however, would have presented no challenge. They had all the hardware required to prepare a normal family meal and the stoves and ovens were clean and well maintained.

We were grateful for the reverse cycle air conditioning when a cool southerly change blew through and we cranked up the heat. The bedroom ceiling fans would facilitate a good night’s sleep in Summer, too.

Parking was right outside the door and if we’d brought a trailer boat we could have parked that safely elsewhere at the park.

There’s such a relaxed, holiday atmosphere that it seemed a pity to pack our stay with work, but we did. So we couldn’t be tempted to distraction, we didn’t even pack any fishing gear but Mark Ternen, just up the road at Narrabeen Bait and Tackle, reckons the whole lake is packed with bream, whiting, flathead and luderick, along with school mulloway.

I marked the sandy channel leading down to the Ocean Street bridge as a prime place to throw a whiting popper over the warmer months and it’s a natural highway for any fish entering or leaving the lake. Another time, perhaps.

And all this is about an hour by express bus to the Sydney CBD, about a 20-minute bus ride to Manly Wharf and just an easy stroll to the surf or the rock pool at Narrabeen.

The BIG4 Sydney Lakeside has squirreled away on the site 48 self-contained bungalows and villas that sleep 4-6, 20 budget group cabins and a bunkhouse as well as a host of sites for camping, caravans and motor homes.

Each powered concrete slab site has an ensuite toilet and shower and the grassy powered sites come with water on tap.

There’s a secure kids’ playground, TV/video room, games room, cot and highchair hire, barbecue pavilions, conference facilities, free wireless internet, internet kiosk and a host of activities over the Summer school holidays and there are also facilities for people with a disability.

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